Bury St Edmunds teacher found guilty of child sex offences
The long-term lover of a founding member of the Paedophile Information Exchange is facing jail for the abuse of an 11-year-old boy in the 1970s, it can be revealed.
Richard Alston, 70, of Robin Hood Court, Bury St Edmunds, taught at a school for ‘maladjusted children’ in the west of London, even though he had a previous conviction for sexual assault.
He groomed the ‘needy’ and ‘vulnerable’ child with his boyfriend, the notorious paedophile Peter Righton.
Together they plied the boy with gifts including beer, cigarettes, silk swimming trunks and a remote control plane before abusing him.
Shortly after his 16th birthday the victim plucked up the courage to confront Righton but he was scared into silence after the abuser boasted of the couple’s ‘connections to powerful people’.
Last Thursday a jury panel of eight men and four women at Southwark Crown Court found Alston guilty of one count of indecency with a child and one count of indecent assault.
He was cleared of a further four counts of indecent assault and two counts of indecency with a child.
The jury were unable to reach a verdict on a remaining count of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child.
The verdicts can now be published after the CPS opted not to pursue a retrial on the outstanding counts in a secret hearing.
White haired and rail-thin Alston, who was supported during the trial by his brother from the public gallery, did not react as the verdicts were read.
Oxford alumni Alston had insisted to jurors that he never touched the child but said ‘it is possible’ Righton, who he was in a relationship with for 40 years, abused the boy.
Righton, who died in 2007, was convicted in September 1992 for possession of child porn and is widely believed to have been influential in a powerful network of child abusers.
Prosecuting, Peter Clement said: “This defendant was in a position which brought with it a considerable degree of trust, not only of the child who he was charged with caring and educating but also the child’s parents and the trust of colleagues at the same school.
“This defendant exploited and breached the trust that came with his position and he breached it for his own sexual gratification.”
Alston was convicted of performing a sex act on the victim and forcing the victim to perform a sex act on him at his flat.
The victim was forced to parade in front of the paedophile couple, who he believed to be ‘really nice guys’, in a pair of silk swimming trunks they gave him.
He told jurors he was bowled over after receiving a 75 pence tip for delivering milk to the couple’s home.
“Back in the ‘70s to 11 years old that was a lot of money, that was a lot of money in those days,” he said.
“I was fine with going to their house, they seemed to be really nice guys. In a word I wouldn’t want for anything, I could get whatever I liked – toys, sweets, anything, money – they were always very generous,” he said.
“I was going through a bad patch at home and needed somebody else to talk to about the problems so I decided to ring them up as normal to go to their home,” the victim told jurors.
“I was given some alcohol which I didn’t like the taste of and they put some lemonade in to make it taste better...
“After the drink I wasn’t feeling very well and I fell asleep and I woke up some time later on a bed,” he said.
“Were you clothed,” asked Mr Clement.
“Yes I was clothed,” replied the victim welling up with tears in the witness box.
The victim was also shown pornographic films imported from Amsterdam during sessions that were also attended by convicted paedophile and former PIE treasurer Charles Napier.
Napier, who is the half-brother of Tory MP John Whittingdale, was locked up for 13 years in December, last year, after admitting 28 charges concerning 21 boys aged eight to 13 between 1967 and 1972.
“By this point the prosecution suggest this defendant and his partner had something of a hold over this boy,” said Mr Clement.
The boy decided to confront the pair at their home shortly after his 16th birthday but Righton scared him into keeping his silence, the court heard.
“He confronted him about what he had been subjected to but Peter Righton dismissed his complaint and told him that he, Righton, had connections to powerful people, that the boy had no evidence and that no-one would believe him and that worked because the complainant didn’t say anything for many, many years,” said Mr Clement.
It was only when researching a book that the victim stumbled across an article about Righton and plucked up the courage to contact investigators.
While giving evidence Alston admitted he had hidden a conviction for groping a teenager in an Aberdeen cinema from the authorities in 1978.
He stroked the thigh of a boy, who he guessed to be 16 or 17, in an ‘attempt at a sexual approach’ but the youth reacted ‘aggressively’ and pushed the teacher into a nearby alley where his friends threatened him with a broken bottle unless he handed himself into the police.
He received the equivalent of a caution after admitting to touching the boy.
Alston was convicted of one charge of indecent assault and one charge of indecency with a child.
He was cleared of four charges of indecent assault and two counts of indecency with a child.
Jurors were unable to reach verdicts on further charges of indecency with a child and indecent assault.
He will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on September 28.